Hashtag: Sorry, Not Sorry

Pop music historically exploits women and female sexuality. (This is of course not limited to pop music.) Naya Rivera just came out with her first single, Sorry. In this tune, Rivera celebrates winning over her boyfriend, Sean Anderson (stage name, Big Sean), and stealing him out from under a list of other girls, who according to Rivera and Anderson, only coincidentally share the same names as several of Anderson’s ex-girlfriends. Of course, just a coincidence. Very believable.

Anyway, while Sorry has a catchy beat, the track is over produced, and Rivera’s vocals fall far short of what she sings as a member of the cast of Glee. The vocal range is limited and relies on production instead of dynamics and musical shading. The song also features a verse from Rivera’s current boyfriend, Anderson, whose tone is unpleasant and nasally, and his lyrics unimaginative.  Overall, Sorry is petty, shallow, and musically uninspired. A grown woman celebrating winning over a (misogynistic, convicted of sexual assault) man is cringe-worthy.

The lyric video to accompany Sorry exacerbates the problem. It features nude women, who are partially shadowed and at times covered in body paint. As the four women gyrate close together, the use of shadows and light highlight and fade out on various body parts of the very naked women. Nipples are readily visible, along with the occasional focus on the crotch shot. These naked women become a backdrop for Sorry‘s lyrics, and max out the inappropriate titillation factor.

Screenshot from Naya Rivera's lyric video, Sorry.

Screenshot from Naya Rivera’s lyric video, Sorry.

In a recent interview, Rivera stated, “Yes there’s naked women, I wanted to use women as human canvasses.” Suddenly, Rivera’s song, billed as a fun “song of the summer,” is trying to be art. I have nothing against artsy videos or nude women; there is a time and a place for that. The use of the nude human body can create many beautiful expressions, when done well, both in the pop culture world and the high art world.

Rivera’s video has a certain beauty to it, but, this is ruined by superimposing the catty, shallow lyrics onto the women. Sorry has not earned the right to use “human canvasses,” especially women, and call it art. In this case, it’s called exploitation of women. Clearly, Rivera hopes disparaging her fellow woman-kind and ensuing controversy will help sell her music. It’s a deliberate and deplorable marketing strategy.

Rivera later goes on to tell Rolling Stone that Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines video was a big inspiration for her own video. “I think that Robin [Thicke] is doing really amazing things with his music videos right now.” In case you have missed the controversy surrounding Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines music video, he has nearly naked women parading around as sex objects for the men, and perpetuates, essentially, rape. Not sure how Rivera can promote Thicke’s offensive and extremely harmful message, especially since this a departure from her previous views.

In the span of just six short months, Rivera has completely abandoned support of female empowerment she lauded this spring, as evidenced by her interviews with LA Confidential and during an appearance on The TalkIt seems Rivera has reoriented her entire morality and now prefers to exploit women alongside misogynistic members of the musical community, like Thicke and her own boyfriend, Anderson.

While misogyny has become expected of people like Thicke and Anderson, Rivera’s turn to support this behavior in the arts, especially as a woman, is jarring. By connecting the dots here, the conclusion is Rivera’s new values include: childishly chasing after a man, misogyny and blase attitude about non-consensual sex. I have never understood how another woman could ignore or support, let alone perpetuate, any of those things.

This is a disappointing turn of events for Rivera, and all of this bleeds into her music and its viability as a product for purchase. Rivera, in the past, has been an inspiration to countless young women, especially in her role as Santana on Glee and as an advocate for female empowerment. In trying desperately to get her single produced against resistance in the music industry, it would seem that disempowering women is the springboard Rivera chose to jump start her music career. That is not a path of career longevity, if she can even hack it out of the gate.

In the case of Sorry, all the naked women in the world will not make up for the poor musical quality, shallow lyrics and tendency to degrade women. Rivera’s first single is a bust. (Or has a bust?) Hashtag, Sorry, Not Sorry.

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About VersusTheFans

Amplifying and celebrating the value of popular art, especially TV, in giving a voice to women and the LGBT community, in addition to serving as a media watcher on LGBT reporting.

Posted on September 19, 2013, in All Posts, Representation, Women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I for one am extremely disappointed and it’s not what I would have expected but it would seem Glee ‘fame’ has gone to the heads of some of the actors involved and I can only hope it’s just a passing phase in their lives.

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